Personal site of Laura Hernández Mateo
Forest engineer, PhD


RESEARCH INTERESTS_____________________________

Forest ecosystems and Global change

Forestry and conservation po1icy-makers need to understand how species are affected by global change in order to tackle its effects on forests. Mountain areas, bioclimatic transition zones and rear edge populations are between the most sensitive ecosystems to global change. Variation in forest composition as a response to vertical shifts, loss of biodiversity and impacts in the demography of forests are some of the potential consequences of the variation in environmental conditions. Long term forest surveys at large scales such as National Forest Inventories reveal as useful tools to monitor changes in forests. Based on geostatistics and other regression methods, my PhD analyzed the long term forest dynamics observed in vulnerable areas in the last decades and their relation not only with key environmental variables but with the human factor. I developed this work supervised by Fernando Montes and Isabel Cañellas To read more go here or here.

Biological Invasion in Forest Ecosystems

Invasive species currently pose a major environmental challenge. Understanding their development and processes determining their expansion is the first step towards developing effective control measures. Framed in my PhD this research  line proposes the use of detailed spatio-temporal information from forest monitoring systems to assess the demographic rates, spatio-temporal patterns and spread determinants of invasive plants in forest ecosystems. The spatially-explicit results obtained from the analysis of these surveys can contribute not only to furthering our knowledge with regard to invasion biology but also to developing more efficient conservation strategies. You can take a look at my first results here. In this context, I collaborate in intree Project.

Biodiversity and National Forest Inventories (NFI)

After the Convention of Biological Diversity and mostly since the second part of 20th century Forest management perspectives changed. Intangible variables difficult to measure are increasingly valued by society. Framed in the worldwide environment policies and requirements, from the third National Forest Inventory (NFI) a new methodology was carried out in order to measure the biodiversity associated to the Spanish forest ecosystems. The main objective of this project is not only to analyze the status of diversity of our forests stands based on indicators such as dead wood or old trees but to track this important value in the ongoing inventories. I develop this work with Iciar Alberdi and Isabel Cañellas in a project financed by Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Medio Rural y Marino. To read more go here.

 Palaeoecology and Historical Biogeography
Based on the analysis of palaeoecological records (macro and micro fossils) like charcoals, woods or pollen, the main objective of these scientific fields is to come out to understand the past vegetation dynamics in order to make a better interpretation of the current forest landscapes. My work in this field focuses in an anthracological analysis of the II Iron Age settlement of Pintia, located in the Duero basin (inland Spain). 


I develop this type of research works in collaboration with the Historia y Dinámica del Paisaje Vegetal research group whose studies are mostly focus in the vegetation dynamics of the Iberian Peninsula during the Holocene. In this context, I take part of the Paleodiversitas  network for the Iberian Peninsula.